From romance to thrillers: 2017 Kdrama Genre Distribution

This is it! This article gives proof to everyone that Kdramaland is not all about romance (so the stereotype should go away!). I listed all 2017 dramas (2 dramas that premiered in 2016 were included because more than half of their episode count were broadcast in 2017. Free-to-air weekend and daily dramas were excluded.) and identified their genre. Of course, the identification isn’t that easy because some dramas have two or more genres. So I grouped some genres into one “category” and assigned each series into the category in which it best fits. Wait, so how did you know that Circle‘s genre is sci-fi? Ladies and gentlemen, please trust my intuition and thank my reference Dramabeans for their Premiere Watch posts that identified the genre of some series last year.

These are the categories and examples:

  1. Romance and Romantic Comedy (RRC) — the likes of Tomorrow With You
  2. Historical — Ruler: Master of the Mask
  3. Sci-fi, Mystery, Action, Thriller, and Suspense (SMATS) — Circle
  4. Melodrama — Just Between Lovers
  5. Comedy — Chief Kim
  6. Other — Lingerie Girls’ Generation

As you can see below, the Romance/Rom-com category has the highest percentage, at 39 %, or 28 out of 71 dramas. For me, that’s a lot already even though it did not reach 50 %. This category is a classic staple in Kdramaland, so it’s not surprising at all that RRCs represent the biggest chunk of dramas last year or even every other year.

2017 Kdrama Genre Distribution Chart

Meanwhile, I feel so ecstatic that SMATS represents 28 percent, just an 11 percentage points lower than what RRCs got. It implies that these genres have become popular among the domestic audience. The demand for this category cannot be underestimated anymore, and I’m sure that over time this number will go up. 

In 2017, there were only seven historical or period dramas (out of 71), eight comedies, and four melodramas.

I’ve also taken note of other minor genres/classification that can be assigned to some dramas and found out that 21 % of the series last year have fantasy elements in them (like in Bride of the Water God and Black). Here’s the complete result:


Me? Just an ordinary lad with an extraordinary (says this something called 'stereotype') habit of watching Korean dramas. It started with action-filled City Hunter and the rest, as they say, is history.
  • thanks for this interesting info! a tad late, but how about if you include ratings into the mix and showed how well each genre did?